Recent statistics indicate that a new data breach now occurs every 39 seconds. 94% of these data breaches happen through email attacks. This is why malicious actors often try to hack into email accounts. Hacked accounts serve as a valuable tool for them to send fake messages from a trusted email address so recipients are fooled into taking action as prompted by the contents of the email. The aim of such criminal activities is ultimately to get the victimized contacts to transfer money, send personal information, or get them to click on a link containing malware, spyware, or a virus on the user’s system.
Learning how to protect your email from getting hacked in the first place can serve you well in the long run. For extensive resources on how to protect your email accounts from getting hacked, please refer to Managed IT Services. In order to do this, you must follow email security best practices. But if you have already been hacked, it’s much more important to know exactly what to do and how to respond in order to recover your account, alert contacts and get your affairs in order.
Symptoms That Indicate Your Email Has Been Hacked
You experience login failures when trying to access your email account
When you experience a login failure when trying to access your email account without changing any of your account settings recently – it should be a red flag. You may get multiple notifications saying that your username or password is incorrect. This is usually an indication that you have been locked out of your own account because the hacker has changed your account credentials. Managed Security Services can help prevent email compromises from happening in the first place, especially with corporate accounts containing sensitive information.
Your sent-messages folder contains messages you never sent
Checking your sent messages folder is often a dead giveaway to understand if your email account has been compromised or not. If your sent folder contains messages you do not ever remember composing or sending, and the messages themselves seem like spam – you have been hacked. Your sent folder could also be empty even when you clearly remember not deleting any messages.
Your contacts report getting strange messages from your social media accounts
Does your Instagram or Facebook feed contain strange messages selling or promoting a product you have never used or talked about? Your email account and your social media account could both have been compromised. This is very much a possibility since your email account itself can act as a common link to all your social accounts. Once the hacker gains access to your inbox, it is a simple matter entering your email address in the login credentials of your social accounts and requesting a password reset option with your email ID. Unfortunately, the password reset link will be sent right to your email inbox that is not under the control of the hacker.
What should I do if my email is hacked?
Here is how to recover your hacked email:
1. Change all passwords immediately
Provided you can still access the option to change password for your email account, you should change it immediately. This time, please make sure that you use a very strong and unique password. Never try to use passwords from other accounts or, use an old password you remember for the same account. You should also update the passwords for other email and social accounts if you have used the same or similar passwords. Hackers always try to take advantage of people reusing passwords or using something easy to remember and hence, easy to guess. In the future, you should consider using password managers that automate using unique passwords each time and even remind you to change your passwords periodically.
2. Recover your email account using your email provider’s recovery service
If you have been locked out of your account, thanks to the hacker changing the password, check to see if your email provider has a provision for recovering lost or stolen passwords. Remember that this option is only available to users who have kept their security questions and alternate contact information updated with the email service provider.
3. Inform your email contacts
The reason why your email account is so lucrative to hackers is because apart from using your address however they like, also getting access to all of your valuable Contacts. These can be used to bombard all of those email addresses with further spam and malicious attacks. The moment you get access back to your email address book, you should send out a formal note to all your contacts saying that your account is compromised and that they should not entertain any email messages, especially spam messages, attachments and links received from this email address for the duration of the compromise. Once you have reset your password, you can notify them that your account has been secured again.
4. Scan your device for malware and viruses
Among the various ways that a hacker can game access to your email account is also the possibility that they used malware to infect your system. In order to ensure the security of your system, you should run a deep scan for viruses and other malware lurking in your system. Going forward, you should also set up a regular periodic scan of your systems.
5. Make sure your other accounts are safe
Hackers often use a single hook such as a compromised email account to gain access to other valuable accounts, including social and financial accounts. With access to your inbox contents and your address book, hackers have all the leverage they need in order to conduct further attacks. This is why you should take the time to thoroughly check the integrity of all your other digital accounts including banking, finances, social media, and other services. IT support 24/7 can help implement an effective security cover for all your accounts with comprehensive digital security.